cleave1 / klēv/ • v. (past clove / klōv/ or cleft / kleft/ or cleaved / klēvd/ past part. clo·ven / ˈklōvən/ or cleft or cleaved) [tr.] split or sever (something), esp. along a natural line or grain: the large ax his father used to cleave wood for the fire. ∎ split (a molecule) by breaking a particular chemical bond. ∎ make a way through (something) forcefully, as if by splitting it apart: they watched a coot cleave the smooth water [intr.] an unstoppable warrior clove through their ranks. ∎ [intr.] Biol. (of a cell) divide.DERIVATIVES: cleav·a·ble adj.cleave2 • v. [intr.] (cleave to) poetic/lit. stick fast to: Rose's mouth was dry, her tongue cleaving to the roof of her mouth. ∎ adhere strongly to (a particular pursuit or belief): part of why we cleave to sports is that excellence is so measurable. ∎ become very strongly involved with or emotionally attached to (someone): it was his choice to cleave to the Brownings.